Interestingly, I just recently watched Czech director Hugo Haas' The Pickup (1951). The majority of Hass's American Noir output was variations on a theme, that theme being the same one for director Josef von Sternberg's Blue Angel (1930), foolish, lonely old fuddy-duddy professor falls for floozy flirtatious dance hall stripper.
Der Fall is a Swiss version of the tale. This go round the man is Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd) a private detective, the girl Marsha (Katrin Buschor) is an underage whore who lives off her clients.
Alfons is an ex cop who quit the force when the case he unearthed of child molestation evidence among police officials, was squashed by the political forces that be. Alfons is now a fairly successful detective, he can make a living at his Grendelman Detective Agency. He shares a sort of home/office in Oerlikon, the industrial North section of Zurich with Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer). She operates a sort of one stop shop for anyone's office services. She does printing, typing, telephone answering and she is a freelance secretary. She answers Alphons' phone, takes messages. and sets up appointments. Fraulein Gertz has a secret crush on Alfons, she wants to be his Velda.
|Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd)|
|Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer)|
|Grendelman Detective Agency|
|Fraulein Gertz touching up her makeup for Alfons|
Another potential woman client is complaining about a peeping tom, when Alfon's asks her why doesn't she close the window and shut the blinds, she replies but then, she argues, she wouldn't be able to tell if he's still there. He gives her a card of an old colleague, he tells her he's a nice man who wears a white coat and glasses and has a note pad.
|"She wants to poison her."|
Kramer: She wants to poison her. She's already tried it before. She didn't succeed then. She ate a little bit then vomited. We managed without a stomach pump..... I saved her life. She's at it again I'm sure. At least it looks that way. I've already been to the police. They said that as long as nothing happens they can't do anything. That's what they said. Until murder is committed They can't do nothing.
Kramer: What should I do? There's nobody but her in my life.
Alfons: Your dog? (to make sure he's hearing it right)
Alfons: It's your housemaid? OK, well what's her name?
Alfons:The housemaid's name.
Kramer: She's from the agency Kagi.
Alfons: I'll talk to people there.
Kramer: And if that doesn't help?
Alfons: Give me your address. (He hands him a card) In the end there's the general public, The Newspapers and all.... People will do anything for a dog.
Kramer: Well then.... many thanks.
It's one of those situations where you get the impression that the guy is maybe just totally nuts. It reminds you of the police station squad rooms where in the old Classic Policier Noirs, a very old woman with way too much makeup on comes in and complains that she has a masher after her. When the detective taking her statement questions her facts she claims that he is also mashing her. Or there is the guy that claims his wife is an alien. In the policiers they usually hustle the person out. Here Alfons will take his easy money. These little vignettes are well done.
Alfons is meticulous and professional. He takes copious notes. He's got dependable down and out-ers and stoolies who he passes cash to who help him with surveillance. He also flashes the green when he's questioning leads. Money loosens the tongue. He has a case where a wife is suspected of cheating Alfons discovers that she is moonlighting as a hooker in a whore house.
|Herr Bleiber (Klaus Knuth) and Alfons|
|Marsha (Katrin Buschor)|
Meanwhile Alfons takes on the additional case of a missing girl. Her parents are the seriously wound a bit too tight control freak types. The father is a Poindexter type neat-nik who micro arranges furniture and synchronizes his watch with every clock in his home. The tightly conservative Mother has hair severely pulled into a tight bun.
Their daughter has run away from home. They can't understand why she split, she has everything here. It's obvious why to Alfons. He takes their photos and their case. While searching the hangouts of Zurich for the runaway he runs into Marsha again. Alfons tells her she can have her money once she signs a statement. She propositions him with the key to the apartment Bleiber gave her.
|Marsha propositions Alfons|
|Beer is always Good|
Der Fall was Kurt Früh's last film. The music by Walter Baumgartner is a Spanish guitar, jazz, bongo paella. Watch for the wonderful six day bicycle race sequence, a series of short vignettes of the cyclists, their support personnel, the spectators, it functions much like the vignettes director Robert Wise filmed during the boxing match in The Set-Up (1949), and for the crap game in Delbert Mann's Mister Buddwing (1966). The excellent cinematography was by Eduard Winiger, Switzerland never looked so bleak and Noir-ish. It's a nice addition into the Neo Noir canon. 8/10